Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Repentant Arsonist gets prison sentence

A man who set his ex-employer’s van on fire and was so full of remorse that he owned up to the incident 18 months later was yesterday sentenced to one year in jail.

Andrew McClements was sacked from his job in April 2003 and, after drinking alcohol, had subsequently set the company’s van ablaze.

He left the scene of the fire, which caused £16,000 worth of damage, and investigators later concluded that it had been accidental. But 18 months after the event, Mr McClements handed himself in to the police and admitted arson, even though investigations into the incident had by then been closed. The only evidence against him was his own word.

In a hearing in the Supreme Court yesterday, Mr Justice Dudley described the incident as “spontaneous and unpremeditated” and recognised that Mr McClements had shown “palpable remorse” over his actions. But the judge added that arson was a serious crime that almost invariably carried a custodial sentence. He sentenced Mr McClements, who had pleaded guilty to the charge, to one year’s imprisonment.

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